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Critical Path, HP Ink Global Messaging Pact

Critical Path and HP got cozy Thursday when the two inked a pact to provide the enterprise with managed messaging services.

The global alliance -- spanning the corporate sector from small business to large outfits -- is valued at more than $100 million, according to the firms. In this deal, Critical Path will pair its messaging platform with HP's HP-UX and Linux-based servers to entice businesses to buy services running the gamut of messaging, including: e-mail, wireless access, instant messaging (IM), group scheduling, personal address book, registered mail, Internet file storage and anti-spam & anti-virus protection.

Critical Path's messaging interoperates with Microsoft's Outlook e-mail client, and is designed to integrate and coexist with Microsoft Exchange.

The service will be run jointly, with San Francisco-based Critical Path outsourcing its data center operations to Palo Alto's HP. However, Critical Path will continue to provide applications management services and product development. In turn, HP will provide systems integration services for Critical Path's packaged software.

Critical Path and HP, are developing their managed service "at a fraction of the cost" for firms seeking to better manage costs, tailor messaging applications to different groups of employees or customers, and free up IT resources. Critical Path and HP envisions luring Fortune 2000 companies will want to upgrade, extend or replace legacy e-mail systems and offer e-mail to workers in factories or remote locations, service providers want to offer customers bundled or a la carte messaging services and the SOHO and SME markets.

Maurene Caplan Grey, a research director at Gartner, said the pact was a good fit for the firms.

"Their alliance reflects the change occurring in service delivery for e-mail and collaboration," Grey told internetnews.com "Increasingly, the IS organization will find itself unable to deliver the myriad of e-mail and collaborative services required by different workgroups within the enterprise and will look to outsourcers to fill the gap. To that end, the IS organization has started turning itself into an internal service provider - hosting some services while "reselling" others hosted by one or more outsourcers."

The partnership will first take root in Europe, North America and Asia, where HP will deploy Critical Path's software in its data centers.

The market for messaging applications, according to market research firm IDC, is expected to top $4.2 billion by 2006. Analysts believe that as IT departments evolve to become service aggregators, managed messaging must support several distinct workgroups with different feature sets to succeed.